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Emergency Environmental Workforce hilo progress Report


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From: Kim Tavares, Operation Miconia Hilo
Emergency Environmental Workforce HILO Progress Report

08 February – 14 February 2002


Field Work:

Kurtistown & Mountain View, Puna


One last day was spent at Kurtistown & Mountain View this week. Miconia are becoming scarce and access permissions are spotty, with smaller parcels scattered here and there. It’s becoming hard to find places for large groups to work here, and it’s time the crews moved on to East Hawaii.
Onomea Scenic Drive & Makai, towards the Sea
This week Miconia control crews moved operations to Onomea, to the place where it all began. Onomea is “Ground Zero” for Miconia in Hawaii, where the very first Miconia plants were introduced to Hawaii over 40 years ago. While some of this area has had control work done in the past, most of the area treated this week is experiencing field crews for the very first time.
During this first week at Onomea, 200.7 acres were maintained, and over fifty thousand plants were destroyed. This high-density site averaged 250 plants per acre. Fruiting trees made up 9.17% of the total.
This Week:

Kurtistown / Mountain View

Maintained Acres

Seedlings

Saplings

Trees

Largest DBH (cm)

Flowers or Fruit

95.1

13

249

12

7.5

1


Onomea

Maintained Acres

Seedlings

Saplings

Trees

Largest DBH (cm)

Flowers or Fruit

200.7

33,018

12,607

4,604

40

953


Since DECEMBER 2001:

Kurtistown / Mountain View

Maintained Acres

Seedlings

Saplings

Trees

Largest DBH (cm)

Flowers or Fruit

1,852.7

29,946

12,103

1,068

30

11



Onomea


Maintained Acres

Seedlings

Saplings

Trees

Largest DBH (cm)

Flowers or Fruit

200.7

33,018

12,607

4,604

40

953


________________________________________________________________________________
Project Total: [ 93,346 ] Miconia plants destroyed over [ 2,053.4 ] Acres ________________________________________________________________________________



Training: Field crews are finding out that not all Miconia work sites are a casual ‘walk in the park’. The Onomea site provides a vastly different topography than the relatively flat lands in Puna. Windward Hawaii is largely made up of steep river drainages and slippery, muddy slopes. The terrain is complicated further by an historical railroad cut and thick vegetation that spans the length of the Scenic Drive. Unlike the slopes to the river drainages, the railroad cuts are vertical drops, sometimes 50 feet or more from top to bottom. Crews are learning to safely navigate in and around these challenging features. With the rainy weather an additional challenge, crews are also learning about swelling streams and how to avoid the dangers associated with flash flooding.

Logistics: Operations at Onomea are staging at the Papaikou Hongwanji Mission at the Hilo end of the Scenic Drive. This area provides ample, covered assembly for the crews and plenty of space for the bus to drop off and turn around. The bus is prohibited from traversing the length of the Scenic “Heritage” Drive because of weight limits on the old bridges, so the farther down the 4-mile road the crews progress, the farther they will need to walk to and from the worksite, until smaller busses can be arranged. Operation Miconia is working with the County to see if this will be an option.
Supplies: Mosquito netting and repellant were a must this week! Crews were also outfitted with Kevlar gloves that grip even the slipperiest surfaces. Day-glow orange safety vests were issued to crews that walk the shoulders of the highway and other roads with heavy traffic.
Performance: Most of the Onomea residents are thrilled to have EEWF field crews work on their properties. The high numbers of plants destroyed and the friendly atmosphere contributed to a very successful first week at this site.
Accidents & Injuries: No on the job accidents this week, but mosquito and spider bites were abundant. Several EEWF workers were caught by the flu, which prevented them from working for several days. Since this is a temporary project with no fringe benefits, EEWF crews do not have sick leave or vacation time, which is a hardship for these good workers.

Next Week: Work will continue between the Belt Highway and the ocean in Onomea. Crews will probably break up into smaller groups in order to address different specialized tasks.
There will be the regular work of crew sweeps, but many of the plants found on the sweeps are not accessible by regular means. The more experienced staff will tackle the larger trees left behind in this weeks work. Also, plants located within some of the more hazardous areas, along roadsides, river banks, etc. will be addressed by Operation Miconia crews trained in rope work, and EEWF workers with tree trimming experience.
If equipment is secured from other divisions, Miconia along the shoulders of Scenic Drive will begin. This work involves cutting and removing the trees, in order to prevent them from falling into the road and causing hazards when they decay.


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